Some influential Democrats in Ohio are urging daytime TV host Jerry Springer to run for governor of the Buckeye State in 2018, according to a new report.
Many have said the 73-year-old “Jerry Springer Show” host could be a successful candidate in today’s political climate, Business Insider reported. In the late 1970s, Springer served as the Democratic mayor of Cincinnati and, in 1982, he sought the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor.
Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) confirmed he has discussed a possible run with Springer, noting the TV personality “certainly would start out with wide name recognition.”
“I think he has a very strong ability to communicate what I think is the heart of the Democratic message,” Strickland said. “I think he is a superb communicator.”
Springer is set to deliver the keynote address on Sunday at the Geauga County Democratic Party dinner. He headlined a similar event for Sandusky County Democratic Party in April, when he said he did not “need” to run for elected office.
But that doesn’t mean the door is totally closed, according to Tim Burke, chair of the Hamilton County Democratic Party. He told Business Insider that Springer would consider a run for governor if he was “needed by the party.”
Burke said he did not “think Jerry has said no, but he certainly hasn’t said yes, either.”
“On the other hand,” Burke continued, “he’s been into a good number of our Democratic county party organization events. ... And whenever he [speaks at] them, he always draws a good crowd. He continues to have a very real interest in Ohio politics.”
Many Democrats have argued Springer could tap into the blue-collar Americans who voted for President Donald Trump in November, given many of them would likely be familiar with his television show and his history in Ohio politics.
Other liberals, though, see Springer’s TV history as a liability — not a benefit — and are pushing for one of the other several Democrats seeking the party’s gubernatorial nomination. Springer's television show rose to prominence on the strength of its salaciousness and outrageousness, and Springer has been accused of pandering to humanity's basest instincts with his television program over the years.
In addition to his television record, Springer also has a controversial political past. He resigned from the Cincinnati City Council in 1974, when it became public he used a check to pay for a prostitute. He did, however, win the seat back the following year.
When he ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1982, he launched his campaign by acknowledging the issue in an ad.
“I spent time with a woman I shouldn’t have,” he said at the time. “I paid her with a check. I wish I hadn’t done that.”
Springer described himself as a “populist, liberal progressive” in a February interview with The Cincinnati Enquirer. He also considered a run for the Senate in 2000 and 2004, but ultimately decided against it.
“What’s probably giving it more juice this time is the Trump victory,” he said. “People are thinking that somebody outside the traditional political establishment can win. [Trump’s] constituency is basically mine. These are fans of the show. I could be Trump without the racism.”
Springer noted that blue-collar Americans have been “ignored” and are a demographic that “ought to be the constituency of the Democratic Party.”